In a previous blog post, I discussed prevention of ingrown toenails. But once you've got an ingrown toenail, what's the best treatment? Do you need to see a podiatrist, or can you treat ingrown toenails at home? There are two ways to answer this question, depending on whether you have a medical condition.
If you are diabetic, have peripheral vascular disease or other circulatory disorders:
Do not attempt to treat an ingrown toenail at home! If you suspect an ingrown toenail because you you have symptoms such as redness, swelling, drainage or pain, make an appointment with your podiatrist immediately! If you're diabetic, we have a standing rule at The Foot & Ankle Center: if someone calls to make an appointment about an acute foot injury and they let us know they're diabetic, we'll find a way to squeeze them in to see the podiatrist that same day — because it's vitally important to treat diabetic foot conditions immediately, in order to prevent a serious infection.
If you are in good health and do not have diabetes or circulatory disorders:
It's still a good idea to make an appointment with your podiatrist. However if the ingrown toenail is not severe or infected, you may try this home treatment first: Soak your foot in a basin of either warm salt water or warm, soapy water. Afterwards, apply an antiseptic to the ingrown toenail area and put a bandage over it to protect it. If you don't see improvement shortly thereafter, you should see your podiatrist. And, if you notice any drainage or excessive redness around the toenail, you should see your podiatrist immediately.
Never try to remove any part of an infected nail yourself.
This should only be done by your podiatrist. Avoid over-the-counter medications as well; these should only be taken on the advice of your podiatrist.
In an upcoming blog post, I'll discuss how we treat ingrown toenails at The Foot & Ankle Center. In the mean time, if you're dealing with painful ingrown toenails, we can help. I encourage you to make an appointment.